#7 PSU Panthers to visit #2 Salve Regina for First Round game
CENTERVILLE, Mass. – After becoming the first team to finish the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Women's East conference schedule unbeaten and untied, the Norwich University Cadets (21-3-0, 16-0-0) will be the top seed in ECAC Women's East Hockey Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. The 2014 ECAC Women's East Hockey Tournament begins on Saturday, Feb. 22, with four quarterfinal games and will conclude with the championship game on Saturday, March 8.
Norwich, the national No. 4, will face No. 8 seed, New England College at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Kreitzberg Arena. In their previous two meetings this season, the Cadets posted a pair of 4-0 victories, the most recent of which coming on Friday. Norwich will be in search of its third-straight ECAC Women's East title and fifth overall. Led by the league's leading scorer, senior Tori Charron (Tecumseh, Ontario), the Cadets average 3.50 goals per game, second-best in the ECAC Women's East and tops among tournament participants. Charron has tallied 37 points this season on a league-best 23 goals and 14 assists in just 24 games. Defensively, Norwich has allowed 28 goals (1.17 goals against average) thus far in 2014, thanks in large part to the play of juniors Loren Carrier (Chandler, Ariz.) and Taylor Fairchild (Overland Park, Kan.). Carrier leads the Conference with a 1.12 goals against average in over 645 minutes played, while Fairchild sits right behind her with a 1.37 goals against average in 612 minutes.
New England College will look to be the first team in the ECAC Women's East to take down the Cadets. The Pilgrims (3-22-0, 3-13-0) will call upon junior netminder Lauren Hopps (Green Bay, Wisc.) to keep the Cadets off the scoreboard. Hopps leads the league in total saves entering the tournament, turning aside 734 shots while posting a save percentage of .906. On offense, junior Marisa Roth (Burlington, Mass.) and freshman Mackenzie Meegan (Phoenix, Ariz.) have been New England College's go-to scorers. Roth has notched 11 points (4 g, 7 a) while Meegan has chipped in with 10 points (3 g, 7 a) to stand as the only Pilgrims with double-digit points.
At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the No. 2 seed, Salve Regina University (15-6-4, 10-5-1) will open its doors to No. 7 seed Plymouth State University (5-18-2, 3-11-2). It will mark the second time the Seahawks and Panthers have clashed this season, with the first matchup going to Salve Regina by a final of 4-3. Salve Regina is in search of its first-ever ECAC Women's East Tournament title, and this year's team has the offensive firepower to do so. Sophomore Danielle Phalon (Stoneham, Mass.)(28 points), and juniors Michaela Chiuccariello (Winchester, Mass.)(25 points), Sarah Markey (Ashland, Mass.)(22 points), and Taylor Shepherd (Quincy, Mass.)(22) points have all scored at least 20 points this season. The Seahawks offense score an average of 3.32 goals per game, second in the tournament only to Norwich. Freshman Colleen Marcik (Madison, Conn.) has anchored the Salve Regina defense in 2014, posting the top goals against average (2.15), save percentage (.924) and winning percentage (.667) of any first-year goaltender in the tournament.
Plymouth State will counter with experience between the pipes in the presence of senior Ali Ponte (Richmond Hill, Ontario). Ponte has posted a .914 save percentage in her final season in a Panther uniform, making over 600 saves and playing the most minutes of any goaltender in the conference this season (1250:54). Up front, sophomore Marisa Zamrock (Lewiston, Maine) has been the focal point of the offense, netting five goals and dishing out six assists for 11 points in just 17 games. Zamrock is currently tied for the top spot in the Conference with three shorthanded goals and holds the outright lead in shorthanded goals per game average (0.18).
No. 3 seed Castleton State College will look to use the home ice advantage that is Spartan Arena when it hosts No. 6 seed University of Southern Maine at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Castleton navigated through the regular season with a record of 14-9-2 and a mark of 9-5-2 in conference play. Southern Maine is currently 10-14-1 and posted a 7-9-0 ledger within the ECAC Women's East. The Spartans and Huskies split the regular season series, with each team taking a game on home ice. Castleton has been staunch defensively, allowing just 42 goals this season, which is the second-fewest of any team in the tournament. Junior goaltender Paula Stephens (Seattle, Wash.) has the Conference's best save percentage this season (.943) and is ranked in the top-five in goals against average (1.62). On offense, the Spartans have two of the top-three scorers in the ECAC Women's East in sophomores Nicoline Jensen (Hellerup, Denmark) and Anna Daniels (Falun, Sweden). Jensen has handed out a league-high 19 assists to go along with 12 goals for 31 points, while Daniels has a balanced stat line of 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points.
The Huskies will need a big game out of junior Liz Bergstrom (Chanhassen, Minn.) to advance to the semifinals. Bergstrom enters the tournament with 2.50 goals against average and statistically ranks among the top handful of goaltenders in the tournament. Senior Erin Banfield (Montpelier, Vt.) has been Southern Maine's most consistent offensive threat through the first 25 games, finding the back of the net 12 times and adding six assists for 18 points. Classmate Bridget O'Brien (Boston, Mass.) will look to repeat the success she enjoyed against the Spartans the first time the two teams met, as she scored both goals in Southern Maine's 2-1 triumph.
The final quarterfinal match will be between No. 4 seed Manhattanville College (8-13-4, 6-7-3) and the No. 5 University of Massachusetts Boston (11-10-4, 7-8-1) at 7:30 p.m. The Valiants are the higher seed and earn the home contest by virtue of a 1-0-1 record against the Beacons this season. Manhattanville is the only other team besides Norwich to have won the ECAC Women's East Tournament Championship, winning the first seven titles and eight of the first 10. The Valiants will call upon a trio of 20-plus point scorers to take home their first championship in three seasons. Led by juniors Sydney Asselstine (Hartington, Ontario)(29 points), Alla Traun (Edina, Minn.)(24 points) and Michele Maggiolaro (Whippany, N.J.)(24 points), Manhattanville boasts the third-highest scoring offense against conference opponents among tournament competitors. Additionally, 22 of Asselstine's points have come in conference play. In goal, junior Kirsten Shaughnessy (Le Center, Minn.) has seen the majority of the minutes, putting forth a 2.54 goals against average and a save percentage of .908 in 967:46.
UMass Boston will look to rely on its defense to position itself for a semifinals appearance. Junior goaltender Moe Bradley (Swampscott, Mass.) has league's second-best save percentage (.936) and the fourth-lowest goals against average of any netminder in the tournament (1.69). The Beacons come into the tournament unbeaten in five of their last seven contests, including win s win over Holy Cross on Feb. 8, where Bradley made 35 saves to preserve the win. The offense will run through sophomore forward Samantha Fallon (Pembroke, Mass.) who has scored a team-high 15 goals and 18 points this season. Junior Alyssa Sullivan (Medford, Mass.) has been the facilitator for the Beacons, posting double-digit assists (10) to go along with six goals.
For more information regarding the 2014 ECAC Women's East Hockey Tournament, including scores, game times and locations, visit www.ecacdiiihockey.com.
(Courtesy of ECAC Communications Office)
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